First edition, first printing of the father of modern witchcraft's first novel. Association copy. Publisher's original green cloth with gilt titles to the upper board and spine, in dustwrapper. An excellent near fine copy, the binding square and firm and the cloth and gilt fresh. The contents with a presentation inscription of the author's last High Priestess "Lady Olwen" are otherwise clean throughout. Complete with the rubbed and nicked, pictorial dustwrapper that has a small chip at the head of the spine and a couple of short closed tears with several pieces of tape to the underside. Correctly priced 7/6 net to the spine.
Inscribed in black ink on the blank reverse of the half title "To Virgilio / Blessed Be, / Olwen / High Priestess + Witch Queen / Castletown, 25 August, 1965". A stellar example of one of the great rarities in modern occult fiction. Gardner's first novel, published in the year of his initiation concerns magic, warfare and the worship of The Goddess as Aphrodite in the year 1450 BC. Monique Wilson (née Arnoux) was born to French parents in Haiphong, Vietnam where as a child she first met the young British customs official Gerald Gardner, the author becoming close to Monique and her family. In 1939, after witnessing her father's murder in the streets of Hanoi she and her mother fled to Hong Kong, where she met her future husband Campbell "Scotty" Wilson. The young couple moved to Britain in 1959 and settled in Perth, Scotland. While living in Perth, Monique became interested in the Old Religion, inspired in part by reading "Witchcraft Today" which had just been published by "Britain's Chief Witch" Gerald Gardner. Monique found many similarities between the goddess worship of the craft and her familiarity with the figure of Kuan Yin from her upbringing in Vietnam. Not knowing he was the same "Uncle Gerald" from her childhood, Monique contacted the author at his Museum of Witchcraft and Magic on the Isle of Man. The two rekindled their friendship and she was initiated into his coven, taking the name Lady Olwen and elevating to High Priestess in 1961. In the following years Olwen, became a high profile and influential proponent of witchcraft, the press labeling her the "Queen of the Witches". On the 12th of February 1964, whilst returning from Lebanon aboard the ship The Scottish Prince, Gardner suffered a fatal heart attack and was buried the following day in Tunis. In his will Gardner, having no children or heir, left the bulk of his estate to Monique Wilson. This included all the contents and artefacts of the "Museum of Witchcraft" housed in the "Witches Mill", Castletown on the Isle of Man and his cottage on Malew Street, which contained almost as many items as in the museum, including numerous notebooks, papers and other important documents. She and her family moved into the cottage but jealousy within the UK witch community caused tension and much negative publicity resulting in financial hardship and the eventual sale of the museum and all of Gerald Gardner's personal belongings.
Stock code: 19621